Martyn Pollock

How we turned our pipeline around in four quarters



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It was a scary time for the business during the second quarter of 2020.

Everything may have been moving — but not in a positive direction. All our long-term deals had fallen out of our pipeline. LTVs had dropped by at least 5% in the market, and our developer clients couldn’t get builders on site or access to trade materials for a period of time. Furthermore, the residential mortgage market had ceased and was telling the public not to move home. This led to our developer clients being worried that they would not be able to sell their units to residential buyers. Considering all of this, we were unsure of where to go as a business.

During this period, one of my business partners, Adrian Cormican, and I worked closer than ever. Instead of the ordinary deal work, each day we would be strategising the business into its component parts. By looking specifically at operations, sales and marketing, it gave us time to understand and plan ahead.

For many people, the world slowing down in March gave them time to reflect; this was no different for us. By slowing down and having the time to think clearly and more strategically, our actions were clearly planned and not so ‘on the day’. In the past, we wouldn’t have allocated the time to do certain things because our deals were constant and our primary concern.

We don’t compare usually compare quarter to quarter. Instead, we try to maximise our results. However, if we are to compare Q1 2020 (156 new enquiries) with Q1 2021 (448 new enquiries), you will see that, because of Covid-19, our pipeline was completely decimated. Contrastingly, when reflecting on the last quarter, we saw that it had been our biggest in terms of business enquiries.

How did we make it work? From April to June 2020, we looked at the business in the following three parts:

Sales

We analysed each function in complete isolation to try and understand what each part did. We looked at sales for around 12 weeks, and drilled down who the client was, what sorts of deals they were doing and what services we were offering them.

As a result, we were able to broaden our product range. By improving this, we were able to enhance our service capability. Although we are experts in structured finance, to an extent, we are also a sales and marketing-focused business.

Marketing

Additionally, we revolutionised our marketing strategy by investing time and energy into learning who our contact base was. We looked at our different audiences to understand exactly what they would be interested in, so that when we communicated with them, it would be of some value. Off the back of this, we launched our monthly newsletter, which we are making a frequent occurrence.

We also used the help of a company to solidify our brand and supply us with various assets. Seeing all this come together pushed us to hire somebody to take charge of our marketing department.

Our marketing function took longer to develop and is still ongoing. Nonetheless, with the help of our newly appointed marketing executive, we’ve been able to look at different things and fill any gaps we once had.

Operations

We’ve also substantially improved our CRM system. This means that no queries are missed since everything is automated. From introduction to completion, and even to post-sales, we are able to guide clients through our sales funnel. As a result, we feel it has perfected our customer service — and this can be seen through our customer retention rate.

Consequently, we were able to open our Scottish office in the last quarter of the year. This was fitting since part of our strategy was to become more geographically aware within the UK. Although Covid-19 has been a burden on many aspects of our lives, for our business, it has been a blessing in disguise.

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